Will the Throne Speech mention climate change? - Macleans.ca

Will the Throne Speech mention climate change?

Or have we have forgotten about “perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity today”

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We are less than a week away now from the Throne Speech. One of its central themes will apparently be “supporting and protecting families.” And apparently there will be a “consumers first” agenda.

It was once reasonable to expect that it might also include some reference to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

Here’s what the 2006 speech promised.

Over the course of its mandate, and starting with the clear priorities set out today, the Government will work diligently to build a record of results … It will take measures to achieve tangible improvements in our environment, including reductions in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

And 2007.

Climate change is a global issue and requires a global solution. Our Government believes strongly that an effective global approach to greenhouse gas emissions must have binding targets that apply to all major emitters, including Canada . Canada has already engaged the international community at APEC, the G8 and the United Nations and will continue to press for a new international agreement that cuts global emissions in half by 2050.

As we pursue a global consensus, Canada is acting even more aggressively at home. Our Government will implement our national strategy to reduce Canada ‘s total greenhouse gas emissions 60 to 70 percent by 2050. There will be a 20 percent reduction by 2020. Our Government will bring forward the elements from Canada ‘s Clean Air Act, which had all-party consensus, for parliamentary consideration.

This strategy will institute binding national regulations on greenhouse gas emissions across all major industrial sectors — with requirements for emissions reductions starting this year. Our Government will also bring forward the first-ever national air pollution regulations. In so doing, our Government will put Canada at the forefront of clean technologies to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Our Government will also establish a carbon emissions trading market that will give business the incentive to run cleaner, greener operations.

At the end of 2005, Canada ‘s greenhouse gas emissions were 33 percent above the Kyoto commitment. It is now widely understood that, because of inaction on greenhouse gases over the last decade, Canada ‘s emissions cannot be brought to the level required under the Kyoto Protocol within the compliance period, which begins on January 1, 2008, just 77 days from now.

The world is moving on to address climate change and the environment, and Canada intends to help lead the effort at home and abroad.

And 2008.

Our Government understands that Canada ‘s economic prosperity cannot be sustained without a healthy environment, just as environmental progress cannot be achieved without a healthy economy. Our Government will continue its realistic, responsible approach to addressing the challenge of climate change.

Our Government has committed to reducing Canada ‘s total greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. We will meet this goal while also ensuring that Canada ‘s actions going forward remain comparable to what our partners in the United States , Europe and other industrialized countries undertake. We will work with the provincial governments and our partners to develop and implement a North America-wide cap and trade system for greenhouse gases and an effective international protocol for the post-2012 period.

To meet the challenge posed by climate change, we will also need to make greater use of technologies that do not emit greenhouse gases. Our Government will set an objective that 90 percent of Canada ‘s electricity needs be provided by non-emitting sources such as hydro, nuclear, clean coal or wind power by 2020. In support of this ambitious national goal, our Government will continue to provide support for biofuels, wind and other energy alternatives.

And 2010.

Our Government will continue to invest in clean energy technologies. It will review energy-efficiency and emissions-reduction programs to ensure they are effective…

Nowhere is a commitment to principled policy, backed by action, needed more than in addressing climate change. Our Government has advocated for an agreement that includes all the world’s major greenhouse gas emitters, for that is the only way to actually reduce global emissions. And it has pursued a balanced approach to emissions reduction that recognizes the importance of greening the economy for tomorrow and protecting jobs today.

The Copenhagen Accord reflects these principles and is fully supported by the Government of Canada. Together with other industrialized countries, Canada will provide funding to help developing economies reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change. Here at home, our Government will continue to take steps to fight climate change by leading the world in clean electricity generation. And recognizing our integrated continental economic links, our Government will work to reduce emissions through the Canada-U.S. clean energy dialogue launched last year with President Obama’s administration.

The 2011 speech though contains not a single use of word “emissions” or the phrase “climate change.”

Two years later, oil-and-gas regulations are twice overdue, the Copenhagen target is hanging over the government’s head, the President of the United States is throwing shade and Mr. Harper’s government is appealing for cooperation (and possibly guidance) from the Americans.

The Prime Minister did once venture that climate change was “perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity today.” And if the Conservatives are stuck for ideas, they might note that they have two unused proposals to create a carbon market that they could copy-and-paste from previous Throne Speeches. There’s also a new report from the OECD which suggests an explicit price on carbon has merit.

A new commitment in the Throne Speech could even be rolled into the new oil sands advertising campaign.